SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 News) – Reckless and dangerous driving kills slightly more than 20 people on Utah’s roadways each year.
Ten-year-old Maya Linton thought she was going to be another statistic.
“It’s unforgettable,” she said.
Noticeably shaken up about the recent chain of events, Maya told ABC4’s Brittany Johnson how she felt when a gun was pointed in her direction.
“Scared and nervous and kind of empty like.”
It happened as Maya was riding in the car with her dad Curtis. He says another driver cut them off while making a left turn near 900 South and West Temple in Salt Lake City.
The father of two says he honked his horn at the other driver, twice.
“Basically to say, ‘why’d you cut me off?’ I didn’t honk to say, ‘come on buddy, let’s fight.’ I honked because I started to move and he cut me off. If I made any mistake it’s that when I pulled up next to him I honked again,” Curtis explained.
Curtis says after the honking, the situation unraveled quickly.
“He looks at us, looks away and then the next thing we see is that suddenly he’s lifting a gun up. It’s a small little black pistol. He points it at us, reached his hand up and cocks it.”
“He peels off and the mind is racing,” he added.
“I remember the 911 person asked, ‘do you want us to follow up with you?’ All I could think of to say at the moment was I just want to make sure no one else is harmed.”
“Why do you think the man pulled out his gun?” asked Johnson.
“I don’t know. Is it just his attempt to say, hey someone is honking at me? I don’t want them to bother me? Is it his attempt to say, yea come on, if you’re going to fight me, this is what you’re going to get? Is it his response to seeing me in a small little mini (Mini Cooper)? Is it him looking over and seeing my daughter? My daughter who is African American,” Curtis replied.
“Do you think race had something to do with it?” Johnson asked Curtis.
“…my black daughter had a gun pulled on her by a white man. So is it race or is it not?” he answered.
Sgt. Nick Street with Utah Highway Patrol says road rage is a problem on the state’s roadways.
“Troopers get calls where firearms are brandished once or twice a week.”
According to Highway Safety, from 2016-2019, there have been 2,788 crashes that involved a reckless and/or aggressive driver. Highway Safety also reports 67 fatal crashes from 2016-2019 involving a reckless/aggressive driver.
“You cannot expose a dangerous weapon in a fight or coral. That’s against state law,” adding “the horn is not like a hey, I didn’t like your behavior and I’m going to let you know about it. That’s aggressive and poor behavior. It can escalate things.”
“That thought that just because I honked, I could not have my daughter today. Maybe I have her but she’s still I recovery. Maybe I have her but she’s going to face a lifetime of challenge and trauma. It is deeply disturbing,” Curtis said.
Sgt. Nick Street says if you find yourself in a situation like this, call the police and report the driver immediately.
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